Something about Good Friday…

I am not what you would call religious. I was raised Catholic and am certain I’m a better person because of it.  But somewhere along the line, I fell away from the church. Occasionally I find my way back – and when I do it’s usually on a Good Friday.

St Joes inside

This used to be called St. Joseph’s Church in New Brighton. It’s now called Holy Family. I clocked a lot of hours in here.

I like to go when when the church is completely empty and it’s just me, God and the echoes in there. I go in, sit down and just have a nice chat. I usually talk about what I’m grateful for, ask for strength, and then sit a while. I love the quiet and the smell of burning candles.

St Joes outside

Where I spent many hours as a kid under the watchful eyes of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

It must be a throwback to the years when I had to go to church on Good Friday and sit, stand, and kneel for hours. I remember the priest reading what seemed like the entire bible, but was just the story of events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. The stories left such an impression that I still feel weird doing anything fun from 12 to 3, the hours they said he suffered and died.

And, in 1996, in a show of solidarity, I actually went into labor on a Good Friday. Now that’s some good Italian Catholic guilt!

After the stations of the cross,  I remember them stripping the altar, so nothing was left. It was very dramatic seeing the altar empty and the tabernacle door open — and always such a miracle when I came back on Easter Sunday to find it decorated and overflowing with sweet smelling lilies.

I’m not a fan of masses, where everyone seems to sit, stand, and recite words they memorized a lifetime ago. I’m sure God is there because God is everywhere, but I don’t feel a presence then.

I feel the hand of God when I’m dwarfed by the majesty of towering sequoia trees as I step quietly on the soft mulch carpet they provide, or in the park,  when a gentle breeze rustles the leaves in the trees, or at night, when I’m walking my dog and see a star twinkling like mad.

And every year, I feel it on a Good Friday, when it’s just me and God inside an empty, quiet church.

Easter Lily.JPG

Happy Easter!

 

 

17 thoughts on “Something about Good Friday…

  1. Happy Easter to you and your family ! Love all your stories & memories of growing up in Pa. Know what you mean about Good Friday, going to church, Stations, hearing the Passion read. Just being in church by yourself, thinking & praying, talking to God are special times, some of the best. Love to you & your family, JoAnn

    • Thank you JoAnn. Sorry it took me so long to reply, I was in PA offering my assistance to Patrick and Bianca. Thanks so much for always reading and taking the time to respond. You are wonderful!

  2. Growing up Baptist, my experience was quite different. No masses, only energetic sermons which made Jesus’ journey on this earth come alive for me. We mourned his death, celebrated his resurrection, and we waited for the Easter Bunny to hide the eggs that we colored on Saturday night (because that’s so Christian, eh? 😉 .
    In my adult life, Good Friday has become more and more a tender day for me, where I find incredible joy in the truth of a savior who sacrificed his life for my salvation. My husband and I spend time on Good Friday in a quiet church sanctuary, praying and thinking about the wonder of all of it (the truth is that our max time for this activity is 20-30 minutes because we are sadly human with short attention spans).
    Easter Sunday morning we are found in the pews of our home church, listening to the worship band as they rock the house with songs of celebration and much rejoicing. My heart sings, along with my terrible singing voice.
    All this to say, I am the most rotten sinner, I’m incredibly flawed, not a good religious person, I’m just little ol’ me, but I’m thrilled to pieces that God sent his son to be flesh and blood, to walk among us and to die for us, and I love the season that remembers all of that.
    Thanks, Fran, for your perspective and your memories and for sharing your heart and your thoughts. We’re all in this together, this life, these traditions.

    • Leslie, it’s really a labor of love. I write this blog and hope that it will touch people, but I do it because I can’t not do it. And Good Friday, as well as Easter will always hold wonderful memories for me, as it does you. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful reader and for sharing your thoughts. I hope your Easter was full of love.

    • Thank you Matilda, and I hope you are happy. Feel free to catch up on the blogs, they are always there for you! I am sure your parents are so thankful to have you there. Family and friends are everything and you made the right choice. Hope you had a wonderful Easter! xoxo

  3. As a fellow fallen away Catholic (I have fallen farther than you – my kids weren’t even baptized unless you count the ones I did in the bathtub), I too remember Good Friday fondly. If we weren’t at church listening to the long and often gory pageant while sitting, standing, kneeling, my mom made us sit quietly between 12-3 and read the inspirational books she pulled out for the occasion. I’m more like the pagans we gave money for in 1st grade now, and nature is my church.

    • I hear ya Julia. I remember taking care of those pagans too! Well, life does come full circle, doesn’t it? I wish you, Marc, Kara and Celia a very Happy Easter. And thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! xoxo

  4. Oh, I remember those solemn masses on Good Friday, rotating and genuflecting before each Station of the Cross. It does have a powerful reverberation in our lives, whether or not we are still pious and only a little faithful. Happy Easter, dear Fran.

  5. I’m with you, girl. I’m pretty certain a giant sequoia never molested a little boy. (I’ll understand if you don’t ‘approve’ this comment)

    • Dear Judas, because I’ve known you for years, and love you (and your sick sense of humor) I will let it slide, plus Catholocism teaches us to forgive you sinners — oh wait, I’m one too! We can’t blame everyone in the Catholic church for what some of them did wrong, but even the most faithful Catholics know that the cover up was beyond wrong and it breaks their hearts. I had a great experience growing up Catholic and never had anything bad happen to me and I knew many priests, most of whom were really exceptional people who inspired me. So, in the spirit of forgiveness, we can acknowledge that the Catholic faith is a good one, but its people are definitely fallible. And Happy Easter to you. Now go say five Our Fathers and two Hail Mary’s you heathen!

  6. Love that, Fran. Those are great memories. Easter is actually more important to celebrate than Christmas because we are reminded of the promise of eternal life. There are some excellent movies out now, The Young Messiah, which takes you through the stages of what life was most likely like for Jesus as a boy growing up. It’s very beautifully done . The young boy who plays Jesus was an excellent choice & does an awesome job, but then all the actors do as well. Miracles from Heaven is another treat to see, based on a true story of a young girls miraculous healing as she gets to take a trip to heaven, talks to Jesus & returns. You can’t help but love both movies and we can all use the messages of hope and to be uplifted, especially today. Buona Pasqua everyone!!! 😁

    • Thanks Mare, I do have great memories and am glad I haven’t lost them yet. Let’s hope it stays that way. Thanks for your suggestions. And Happy Easter to you too.

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